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Information, not emotion, at divorce support evening

December 11, 2009

It took many months of planning, thought and not a little worry, but  Tuesday”s “Evening of Support, Information, and a Vision for Your Future” was a great success. 

An intimate group of about twenty thoughtful men and women joined licensed marriage and family therapists Nancy Wergeles LMFT and Elizabeth Crossfield LMFT; attorney and MSNBC-TV Senior Legal Analyst Susan F. Filan, MA, JD; and Lili A. Vasileff, CFP, CDFA and President of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners, and me – the one nonprofessional – in Susan Filan’s elegant law offices in Westport, Conn.

I began the evening with my keynote “You will smile again” talk with a reading from my book, Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey. Now that the stressful times of my divorce are far behind me, and I’m living the life of my dreams (to use a dumb but very apt cliché) it can be easy to forget how tough those times can be, when you’re worried about your kids, financial security, and suffering a general deflation of self-esteem. So I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with people who are fairly new to the experience to remind me how it was and make me appreciate how far I’ve come.  I know that one day everyone in that room will be in a similarly better place.  I hope that my talk, as with my book, somewhat assures them of that.

What struck me was how calm, measured, and undramatic was the atmosphere in the room. There was no breast-beating, no self-pitying tales of woe.   More amazing, there was not a word of ex-spouse bashing.  One divorcing couple even came together.

To be frank, we had expected that the evening would be more one of offering emotional support, which is what family therapists Nancy Wergeles and Elizabeth Crossfield do in their divorce support groups.  But the perspective people brought was not “Look how I’ve been wronged,” but “How do I move forward?”

It encourages me immensely to think that perhaps our society is finally reaching some point of sanity in accepting that divorce is not tragedy, not Armageddon, but actually a normal – albeit painful – lifecyle event.

Most fun for me was meeting an anonymous blogger I’ve recently connected with who calls herself The Divorce Encouragist.  I had been trying to find out who was this courageous soul whose unusual blog puts such a positive spin on divorce.  Although she keeps her identity anonymous, she isn’t afraid to take an unpopular stance that has offended more than a few of her married friends.  Turns out this person travelled quite a distance to attend our evening that she had read about on my blog. I was flattered and delighted.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 5:40 pm

    Jessica,

    Spot on as usual. It’s so inspirational to hear of so many people looking forward, rather than dwelling on the past. Divorce is usually the “least worst” option that folks can simply treat as a fact. The early people accept the facts, the earlier they can move on and grow into a new and more fulfilling (and, yes, happier) life.

    Dan Meir

    P.S. Happy Chanukah!

  2. December 12, 2009 12:18 am

    Thank you~ I too was impressed with the mindset of the audience. There were no victims in that room, only individuals seeking the best road forward!

  3. December 12, 2009 12:49 am

    I am glad to see others taking the positive approach to divorce and separation, looking for the positive opportunities, trying them, doing them, living them!

    The holidays can be difficult in divorce. I always use a positive attitude and try to stay busy with exercise, home improvements or other useful time spent. This helps boost self esteem, knowing you have done something positive with your time.

    Again, I have written a positive book “Upside of Divorce” about how to make a great divorce recovery to help the millions of us in divorce each year. My book has a more positive approach to moving on, creating a new life for oneself and even goes further about how to make a much happier and more enjoyable life after divorce.

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